It’s not Richard Madden.
After months of speculation, it has now been confirmed which character in The Eternals will be Marvel’s first gay hero.
Footage of the upcoming blockbuster – which will be the 25th entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe – was shown at CCXP 2019, and revealed that Plastos (played by Brian Tyree Henry) had a same-sex partner with two kids.
This matches up with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s comments from earlier this year. During an interview on Good Morning America, he said the character will be married with a family, “and that is just part of who he is”.
Although Richard Madden’s character Ikaris was rumoured to be the queer hero, footage confirmed that he will be partnered with Gemma Chan’s character Sersi, who is also rumoured to be involved with Black Knight, played by Kit Harrington.
Set at the beginning of the universe, The Eternals will focus on an immortal alien race of the same name created by the Celestials, who are sent to Earth to protect humanity from their evil counterparts, The Deviants.
It will also star Angelina Jolie as Thena, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Salma Hayek as Ajak and Lauren Ridloff as Makkari.
Due for release 6 November 2020, the film will be the second entry in Marvel’s ‘Phase 4’ after Black Widow, which will see Scarlett Johansson reprise her role for a prequel, set in-between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
The third sequel in the Thor franchise, Love and Thunder, will also make strides with representation. The film – which will be released in 2021 – will see focus on Tessa Thompson’s character Valkyrie and her search for a queen.
It was also reported earlier this year that Marvel are seeking a transgender actress for a role in the franchise. A casting call has been released for a character called Jessica, a role for “a transwoman actress of any ethnicity in her 20s to 30s”.
It’s part of a new initiative by Marvel to become more diverse, especially after the acclaim and box office success of films such as Black Panther and Captain Marvel, both of which grossed over one billion dollars.
Victoria Alonso – the studio’s executive vice-president – said she hoped Marvel would set the standard with diversity.
“We’re just determined to have it be how we do it,” she told Vulture. “And if we do it, maybe somebody else will do it. I encourage every studio, every indie production company, every filmmaker out there to make an effort.”
And Sarah Halley Finn, the casting director for every Marvel film since Iron Man, said: “You’re gonna see even more new faces — and faces from all different background, all ages, all ethnicities, LGBTQ, people who are differently abled.
“It’s a priority to have authenticity, to increase representation, to give greater representation to actors who have not traditionally been represented in mainstream movies on the big screen.”